Wednesday, 20 August 2014

My Beauty Favourites July/August

Today I am going to a quick run down for you of some of my new favourite beauty products that I've used this month and last. I am very fussy, so there are only actually 4 new products that have made it as far as this post. And they are as follows..

Eye of Horus Goddess Mascara

Eye of Horus, Eye of Horus Goddess Mascara, Cruelty Free mascara, Cruelty free make up

I am always wary of trying new mascaras as I find that it takes a certain type to make my mostly stubby/short eyelashes seem longer and fuller. I agreed to review the Eye of Horus Goddess mascara around a month ago and ever since it arrived, I've used it every single time that I've worn make-up. It is my new favourite! It really makes my lashes fuller AND the brand don't test their cosmetics on animals! <3 Not bad for a brand that I hadn't even heard of before! £19 at eyeofhorus.uk.com

Scholl Institute Manicure & Pedicure Centre

Scholl Institute Manicure & Pedicure Centre

I never go for professional manicures, I just don't have the time. But I have always wanted nice nails and find that a splash of nail polish and occasional file just have never really cut it. So when I received the Scholl Institute Manicure and Pedicure centre in the post, it was a bit of a god send. Not only does it buff and shape my nails perfectly it also great for removing any dry skin (ew!) off of feet. There are so many different tools to use and you can choose between intensity settings too! Not only is it great to sit and have some 'me' time and sort my nails out, it's genuinely really fun to use. Priced at £70 here!

Wilkinson Sword Hydro Silk Shaver


Wilkinson Sword Hydro Silk Shaver

I know it's not super exciting, but I am loving the new Hydro Silk shaver from Wilkinson Sword. I don't know if it's just because I hadn't changed my shaver in a while or what, but since shaving with this, I almost feel like I'm not shaving at all, as it's super soft and really just easy to use. Would totally recommend this to anyone upgrading their shaver! £5.80 here.

Freshness of the Morning Hair Serum

Freshness of the Morning Hair Serum

I'm not one to be doing anything special to my hair. I hadn't ever used anything like oils or treatments  for it before. I'm a shampoo, conditioner and quick brush through type of hair person. I get the occasional highlights and have had the same style since, well, forever and I cut my own split ends, rather badly, but still, I refuse to pay double for a woman's hair cut compared to mens. Don't get me wrong, I like nice hair. I wish I had the time to style it perfectly every single day, I'd love hair like Veronika's from Veronika's Blushing. I watched one of her youTube videos a while back where she was talking about how she gets her hair like she does and I noticed that she uses special hair 'potions' and so when I was offered the chance to try this hair serum from Freshness of the Morning (who are another animal friendly brand) I thought to myself, 'Why not!'.. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am LOVING it. I feel like ever since I've started using it, my hair has been so much more shinier and it feels like it has a lot more moisture! I am definitely very happy to recommend this and pleased that I gave it a go! It's currently on sale for £14.50 from http://fomcosmetics.co.uk/


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Do primary schools offer enough after school extra-curricular activities?


The national curriculum is broken down into four main key stages with one and two being taught at primary schools. Teachers have a very strict body of work to cover during this time which is why many schools introduce extra-curricular activities to cover anything that might not be included during the school day – but do they offer enough for children outside normal hours?
Well, this subject has been debated heavily over the years but it’s safe to say that steps have been taken to ensure children get the stimulation they need. While extra-curricular clubs are popping up left, right and centre, educational apps like ParentMail make online payments for activities easier than ever, and offer online communications so you can reach parents on their mobile or by email letting them know about new activities, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.
Government funding
Sadly, opportunities for youngsters rely heavily on funding. If there’s a lack of money, non-essential activities seem to be put on hold or stopped altogether. This has happened in the past; however, things are looking up with the UK government spending over £450 million on improving physical education (PE) and sport in primary schools over the three academic years: 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. As the extra money is being allocated directly to primary school head teachers, schools can decide how to use their funding, be it to hire qualified sports coachers to improve PE lessons or to run after-school sports and holiday clubs.
Change4Life Sports Clubs
Thanks to Change4Life Sports Clubs for primary schools, less active seven to nine year olds are being given the chance to increase their physical activity levels. These extra-curriculum initiatives encourage children to get moving and provide an exciting, competitive and inspirational environment for them to thrive. The clubs centre around five main themes: Adventure, combat, creative, flight and target. They encourage kids to try out a wide range of sports and are proving to have a significant impact on the behaviour attendance and attainment of little ones.
Teacher access to free training
While many people consider extra-curricular activities an essential part of learning, it’s worth noting that teachers often give up their free time to run particular clubs and classes. They’re organised and led by professionals who sacrifice a lot for children, so it’s good to see plenty of teachers being supported by outside organisations. Matalan TOP Sport, for instance, provides primary school teachers with free access to training and resources so they have the skills necessary to run clubs that are compatible with the national curriculum. This not only improves key stage lessons, it helps after school activities become educational and beneficial.

It can be difficult to know if enough extra-curricular activities are being offered but as you can see from the information above, things are improving. With additional funding, specialised clubs and teacher dedication the future looks positive.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Ethan : 16 Months Old

Dear Ethan,

How are you 16 months?! I remember you in my tummy as clear as day! And then when you were born, you were so fragile and new and well just everything. And now you're a toddler, you walk, you run, you get into everything, and well, you're still just everything!

This month has seen such a change in you.. this is actually probably the most I've ever seen you change in just the space of a month!


ON THE MOVE

  • You love being able to walk, you have really found your feet and you no longer crawl. You even run now! (Mostly very fast, away from Mummy in the middle of the shop! - yeah thanks for that!)
  • If you fall over - you're straight back up! No time for crying, places to be and all that..! ;)


NEW SKILLS
  • So you've finally decided that you are going to start clapping your hands and generally doing a lot more to try and communicate now. You wave goodbye the moment we ask, where as before you pretty much ignored us and did it on your terms. (You're very much like that!).
  • You watered the plants with your little watering can all by yourself, without me saying anything to you. Which was so incredibly sweet! 

  • You're getting better and better with your swimming. - we took you swimming today and for the first time you used your arms yourself. You've always been strong with your swimming, you kick your legs brilliantly but now you've mastered the arm movements, you'll be amazing! We can even let you go in the water and you'll swim a bit by yourself! 

  • You are just about mastering building blocks, you've started stacking them together and then when you're done with them all, you'll put them all away by yourself without me even asking! (You're very tidy - just like Mummy! ;))
  • Your still not talking very much, but you know so many words. I think, like most things, you're just waiting until you're ready. Words I know you recognise and know what they mean are: Mum, Dad, Cat, Charlie (our black and white cat), Bubble (which you know means bath), Kiss, Ta (thank you), Shoes, Peppa Pig, No, and probably some others I've forgotten. The ones you can be bothered to say are 'Mum' and 'Dad' and you shake your head to say 'no'.


LIKES & DISLIKES


  • As with every month you're most favourite thing to do is go outside. There's nothing that you love more. You get so excited when we got our shoes on and if we don't leave the same very second that our shoes go on, you throw a bit of a tantrum.. -.- It's great that you're now walking, because you now play outside in the garden quite a bit.
  • You love watching Nick JR, you take after your Dad with the TV and go completely ignorant when your favourite TV shows are on! Your favourite shows are of course, Peppa Pig and you also love Ben and Hollys Little Kingdom. You even love the meerkat advert which features Baby Oleg for car insurance. And the confused.com robot advert!
  • You still LOVE banana, you eat it like it's the first bit of food you've had in a year. Before you've even finished putting the first bit in the second bit is in too. It's so funny to watch!
  • You love spending time with other people a lot more this month. You're turning into quite the social butterfly. You love your Thursday nights and Fridays with your Grandma, Grandpop and Auntie Ellie. Their house has become quite the second home to you. 
  • You're not keen on having your teeth done - you get excited by the taste of the toothpaste but once you've eaten that, you start getting very frustrated. 
  • You don't like missing your nap or being hungry in the slightest bit (oh you so remind me of myself) you get very grouchy. You also get grouchy if you can't do something the first time (yep, you've definitely taken after me!).

EATING, SLEEPING & EVERYTHING ELSE
  • Since we figured out how to get you to sleep alone, sleep has been amazing. Bed time is around 7:30 and you wake up at 7am the next morning. I am so glad that we managed to sort your sleep out and get our bed back! 
  • You eat well. You go through phases of refusing certain foods, but then we try you again and you'll eat it. You are just learning to use your fork and spoon, but we are still mostly feeding you. For a veggie baby, you have such a healthy weight and eat very well :)
  • You're generally such a happy, giggly baby. Who seems to have so much fun. You make us so happy and I think that we make you really happy too. 

Ethan, I love you with all my heart and am so grateful to you for all the happiness you bring to my life every single day. 

Love from Mummy xx

Monday, 18 August 2014

Keeping Toddlers + Children Entertained Outdoors

When the weather is nice you will want you and your little ones to spend as much time outdoors as you possibly can. As with any type of activity, you want to ensure that your children have plenty of variety so that they do not get bored very quickly. There are a number of ways that you can keep your children entertained outdoors, spending quality time with them while making lasting family memories together. Here are just a few ways to enjoy the good weather with your kids.

Utilise Garden Equipment  
Children always enjoy spending time outdoors, even if it is just playing in the back garden for a few hours. There are a lot of toys and games that children can play within the confines of your home garden. Ranging from playing on large pieces of equipment such as Wicken Toys Climbing Frames to simple games such as skittles, giving children the option to play with what they want will prevent them from becoming bored very quickly. You could place everything from skipping ropes to basketball nets and a playhouse out in the garden and see what kind of games they can dream up. If they are out in the garden for most of the day chances are they will play with everything at some point or other.
Take them Walking 
Going for a walk is a simple, free activity that you can enjoy with children of all ages. Babies can be pushed in their strollers and older children will be able to walk by themselves while taking in their surroundings. It is also an activity that can be carried out anywhere. Even if you live in quite a built up area, your children will still enjoy the opportunity to be out in the open air and there may be points of interest that you can point out to them along the route. If you have friends that also have children you should consider inviting them along for some extra company and incorporate a game such as eye-spy into your walk for some extra fun.

Local Playground  
Taking your children to a local playground will give them the opportunity to interact with other children. They will also have access to equipment that they may not have at home such as slides and swings. Children can easily spend hours at the playground if you let them, so it might be worth considering bringing something with you to break up the playtime. If you take a picnic then you can give the children some time to play before they sit and have lunch in the open air. 

Spending time with your children outdoors is always an enjoyable way to pass the glorious sunny days. By varying the activities that you do, this time can be made even more enjoyable. The suggestions listed here are just a starting point. There are quite literally hundreds of things you can do with your family when the sun is shining. Think about where you live, what facilities are nearby and you’ll quickly see there is no shortage of ways to keep your kids entertained outdoors.



Sunday, 17 August 2014

Recent Purchases

Those random days out in to town where you end up returning home with bags of purchases that you probably didn't need but just HAD to get anyway - are the best, right?!

One of my favourite stores to go to on these types of days is New Look. I so much prefer it over places like Topshop as they are have such lovely stuff, but the price tag doesn't make your mouth drop!

Here are some of the things that I picked up on my last shop..


I am in love with my new watch - I adore the colour. I know there are some absolutely beautiful watches about these days but most of them are leather and so go straight on the 'no' list. Where as this one isn't and it looks fab on! Plus it was only something like £12! -  Bargain!


This was such an impulse buy, I picked it up whilst queueing! They place things like this to tempt you in the long queues and it always works on me! It's such a cute little lunch box though right? And it was only £3 in the sale! How could I say no? It will be perfect for work!


I always find it so difficult to buy shoes - I have such weird, wide feet. So I am a huge fan of New Looks 'Wide fit range'! I went upstairs in our local store to try and find a belt, but ended up browsing the sale shoes (as you do!). And there glistening right at me where these! I loved them straight away, then I realised they were size 7 and I loved them so much more. And then I realised they were 'wide fit' and I got just a little more excited. And then when I saw their sale price of £12... well, that was it - they were mine!


 I was on the hunt for some pretty hair accessories, when I came across these. I got a pack of three little crocodile clips and this stunning gold, sparkly slide clip (pictured above) which I love. They were literally like a couple of quid each and they are so pretty! Perfect for just throwing my hair back out of my face! 

Hope you like the look of my new purchases, which is your favourite? 


Preparing Your Home For Parenting

Glass chandeliers. Cream carpets. ‘Feature’ walls. All things we’ve most likely dreamt of at some point or other as being part of our home. But when kids come along, suddenly priorities change. Suddenly *sob*, we’re thinking about space. Safety. Security. The grown-up stuff! As much as we still keep house proud where we can, it’s inevitable that things that are a little too fancy can get ruined by little ones. It’s not their fault! It’s just what they do!

PRACTICAL THINGS YOU CAN DO
You’ll most likely want to start thinking about practical things, such as carpets that won’t stain when there are spillages or ‘little accidents’. As for getting a baby gate – if you have stairs, these aren’t really ‘optional’, they’re pretty much a must have. Then there are plug sockets to think of. Have you covered these up? They can look especially inviting to tiny little fingers. Minuscule objects should be hidden away, pets should be kept at a distance and any dangerous substances should be locked up completely. It’s exhausting, yes, but it’s got to be done – all part and parcel of being a parent!
SPACE
When it comes to space, you may even find that your current home isn’t quite big enough. A lot of us, especially the so-called ‘Millennials’ out there (those of us in our twenties and early thirties), have already struggled to buy a place as it is – mortgages don’t come cheap, so a lot of us stay renting. But if you are lucky enough to own a place of your own, there’s nothing to say you can’t convert rooms or even build extensions to accommodate an extra human being! Good, local and reliable builders like Steve Gilbert are ideal here, as they’ll work with you to your exact requirements. Every town will most likely have someone similar – word of mouth is your best bet in these situations, as other people in your boat can tell you the pros and cons. 

ELIMINATE RISKS
Every little thing in our world that we take for granted is new – and potentially exciting – to a child. Of course, you can’t keep them in a bubble forever, they have to see the world and learn for themselves! But while they’re too little to know right from wrong, you can of course eliminate risks, keep them under a watchful eye and keep them out of harm’s way as much as possible! They’re you’re most precious thing, after all… everything else is worth sacrificing.



Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Living Room: How to Create a ‘Sound’ Space


If you’re thinking about redecorating your living room, then you’ve likely got furniture, carpet, curtains and light fixtures on the brain. However, have you ever stopped to think about the value of a good sound system? 

You can pump up the latest toddler hits or connect the system to your TV — making sure you hear every pint pulled on EastEnders. It’ll even add value to your house! Here are some tips for how to arrange your living room to make the most of a sound system:

Receiver
The positioning of the sound system is crucial. You want leads out of the way of any curious children, but you also want to make the most of the sound. The central receive is the essence of an audio-video (AV) system. Every source (the TV, speakers, game console and more) connects to the receiver so you need to put it somewhere accessible. A television unit or full entertainment unit is designed for technology such as this, so you may want to consider getting one of these. 

Alternatively, head to an estate sale or flea market and see if you can get a vintage bookshelf. Place the receiver on a shelf amongst the books, photo frames and stuffed animals so it will blend in. As long as it’s high enough and the cords all trail down the back, it should be safely out of the way. 

Speakers
You’ll want to disperse your speakers around the room so that no matter where you sit, you hear quality sound. The shape of the room plays a big role in deciding where to place speakers. The natural speaker setting for a square living room, for instance, is in each of the corners. If you have a rectangular room or room with a sloped ceiling, you’ll have to think a bit harder about placement. Never underestimate the old ‘trial and error’ method of arranging your speakers in a variety of locations to test the sound and go with whatever sounds the best. 

Go wireless
Finally, to get a system that is truly child-friendly (in other words — out of the way!), consider something wireless. You won’t have to worry about children tripping over leads and it’s easy to install the system throughout the rest of the house, or even the back garden! 

With some careful thought and preparation, anyone can set up a quality, child-friendly sound system. Only thing left to do is get the Peppa Pig and Postman Pat soft toys out for a dance party! 

(Images by wickenden and Bruno Girin, used under Creative Commons licence.)

*Rosemary Swithenbank is a mum of three who is passionate about music and technology. When not changing nappies or taking the kids to school, she loves getting to rock gigs. 





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